Breath of the Eternal



Photo credit: Theen … via / CC BY-NC-SA

As smoke and sparks arise from a lighted fire kindled with damp fuel, even so, have breathed forth from the Eternal all knowledge and all wisdom – what we know as the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the rest. They are the breath of the Eternal.    – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Vedas, to a Hindu, are the highest written authority.  Each of the four Vedas, viz., Rik, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, is divided into two parts: Work and Knowledge. The first is mainly made up of hymns, instructions on rites, ceremonies and rules of conduct. The second is about knowledge of God, the highest aspect of religious truth, and is called Upanishads.

Upanishads are not a formal text of spirituality. They are not a planned structured textbook with logical flow from one thought to another. All of them are revelations that occurred to sages in the highest levels of meditation when they were floating in the Eternal Sea of Intelligence and were face to face with the Eternal Truth.

 “This universe is a tree eternally existing, its root aloft, its branches spread below. The pure root of the tree is Brahman, the immortal, in whom the three worlds have their being, whom none can transcend, who is verily the Self. The whole universe came forth the Brahman, moves in Brahman. Mighty and awful is he, like a thunderbolt crashing loud through the heavens.  For those attain him death has no terror. In fear of him fire burns, the sun shines, the rains fall, the winds blow and death kills. If a man fails to attain Brahman before he casts off his body, he must again put on a body in the world of created things.”

The above quote is from the Katha Upanishad. It says, “If a man fails to attain Brahman before he casts off his body, he must again put on a body in the world of created things.”

A careful reading of the above sentence tells us that:

  • The goal of a man’s life is to attain Brahman.
  • A man puts on a body and casts off his body.
  • This world is a world of created things.
  • By inference, then there must be worlds of uncreated things.
  • Birth in this world is treated something as less desirable.
  • By inference, we get an idea that there are better worlds.
  • By inference, then that man cannot be his body.
  • This sentence does not talk about death of a man.

All these ideas are contrary to what you and I tend to know and believe. Are they not ? Not necessarily so. A deep thought about this sentence will throw more light on these concepts and will motivate you to know better about each concept.

If the Upanishad refers to a man, this definition of a man, is totally contradictory to what we know as man.  In the Vedic wisdom, there is something called Atman. Frederick Manchester, in The Upanishads translated by Swami Prabhavananda and himself, says “The Sanskrit Atman, meaning the God within …verbal equivalent of this expression appears nowhere in Hindu philosophy.”

The whole of the Upanishads explain the Atman but never define the term. They say that like the word Brahman this word is difficult to define and put it within a contour of constructed logic and meaning.

The popular scripture of Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita says “Atma is all-pervading Akshara-Brahman which illumines the vast universe and upholds it. The all-pervading Atman is one indivisible, immovable, imperishable being in all things. The individual soul is Jeevatman.”

Aurobindo says the following:

““The Kshara spirit visible to us as all natural existence and the totality of all existences moves and acts pervadingly in the immobile and eternal Akshara. This mobile Power of Self acts in that fundamental stability of Self….”

The Akshara “…in its highest status… is an unmanifest beyond even the unmanifest principle of the original cosmic Prakriti, Avyakta, and, if the soul turns to this Immutable, the hold of cosmos and Nature falls away from it and it passes beyond birth to an unchanging eternal existence.”

Please note he says “if the soul turns to this Immutable, the hold of cosmos, nature falls away from it and it passes beyond birth to an unchanging eternal existence.”

If we come to the modern writings, we come across the celebrated thinker, Reiki master Paulo Horan, saying the following: “You begin to realize that you are not the body, not the thoughts and not the emotions. You have these things, but they are not who you are. You are not inside your body, rather your body is inside of YOU. All these accouterments – the body, mind, thoughts and emotions – are transient vehicles to help you navigate through this dream, whereas in truth YOU ARE Consciousness ItSelf.” 

Where do we go from the above thoughts and concepts. The best place to go is to go inside, inside of us, into our mind and heart and think about these lofty truths. No one  can make the other realize these by reading or hearing.

This post is a prompt, a motivation, a catalyst that will make the interested reader delve deeper into him and realize the unlimitedness of the soul and shed all notions of limitedness.

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